Advice from Claire: Why Do People Ghost Their Therapist?
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Do you feel like ghosting your therapist? Claire gives you some insight into why you might be wanting to do this and shares some tips on other approaches you can take. Plus, she answers a question from a listener whose spouse does not want help for his addiction.
Check out Claire’s recommendations for resources on addiction:
- American Addiction Centers
- Understanding and Helping an Addict by Andrew Proulx
- Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
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Claire Bidwell-Smith 00:00
Okay, we all know that ghosting has become a common thing these days. But have you ever ghosted your therapist? I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about today on NEW DAY. I bet you thought you were the only one who’s ever ghosted your therapist? Nope. It’s actually quite common. So I thought I’d talk about it a little today explain why we do this and what your therapist might think about it. Ghosting your therapist is basically when you stop showing up. Maybe you cancel this week’s appointment last minute, but then you cancel next week’s two. Or maybe you say you’re gonna reschedule but really, you just stopped showing up altogether, and never ended up putting another appointment on the books. Let me start by saying that it’s not really that cool to go through a therapist. But it’s also not the worst thing in the world, it happens more than you might think. And we therapists are more or less prepared for it. Again, it’s not ideal. So I’m in no way recommending it, just addressing it. Why don’t we ghost our therapists? Well, for a few reasons, sometimes we genuinely get overwhelmed by life and our schedules, and we just can’t make time for the sessions. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to just tell your therapist this outright and ask if you can pause sessions until your schedule frees up. Another reason is financial, therapy can be expensive. But look, if you’re stressing about your mental health bills, talk to your therapist about it, there are options, maybe you start going twice a month instead of four times a month, maybe they can offer you a reduced rate. A lot of therapists are willing to do this if you just ask. Or they could provide you with something called a super bill, which is a form you could submit to your insurance and possibly get reimbursed for your sessions if you’re paying out of pocket. Sometimes we go to our therapist because we’re just not that into them. We do that with people we’re dating too, right? And for the same reason, we’re reluctant to have that awkward breakup combo. But in this case, sometimes that conversation can be helpful, and you don’t always have to do it in person, send your therapist an email or leave them a voicemail letting them know that you don’t think they’re the right fit for you. And if you’re comfortable a little about why. Also, in some cases, maybe you like your therapist, but some things still feels off. bringing that up with them can often yield itself to some really good conversations or provide an opportunity to deepen the work you’re doing together. I know these conversations can feel awkward on your end. But look, we are literally trained in awkward conversations. So consider taking the risk, it might be worth it. Lastly, and this is the big one, we most commonly ghost to our therapist when we’re scared to address something big that’s going on in our lives. Maybe the first few weeks or months of seeing your therapist were great. But now you’ve moved throughout the regular stuff. And it’s time to dig into some childhood trauma or an affair you’re having or an addiction you’re struggling with and you’re scared. Look, I get it. I’ve even ghosted my own therapist in the past when things got too heavy to deal with. If this is the case, there are a few options other than ghosting, which let’s face it just really isn’t great for anyone. First, decide for yourself, if you’re ready to tackle this heavy stuff. If your life is falling apart as a result of it, and you’re really struggling, then you might not have any other choice. So in this case, just tell your therapist about your fears. They may be able to make you feel safer, and even lay out a plan that feels less daunting for how you’re going to move through this stuff. But if you know you’re just not ready in this moment, then ask to take a break. Let them know why. And ask if it’s okay for you to reach back out when you’re ready. Most therapists schedules permitting, will leave the door open for their clients to come back when they’re ready. I’ve had clients resurface months, even years later, and that’s personally okay with me. We’re not here to force you to do the work. In fact, you being willing and ready makes it much better anyway. So next time you’re on the verge of just disappearing on your shrink, give it a little more thought and consider some of the options I’ve talked about here. After all, this is your time, your money and your well-being. Today’s listener question is pretty heavy. But I hope you know; I want to hear all the questions you have heavy light in between whatever is on your mind. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or fill out my online forum at bit.ly/newdayask, you can sign your name or remain anonymous like today’s listener. They ask how do I help my spouse with addiction when he doesn’t want help? I will not leave high anonymous. Thank you so much for writing. This is a hard one. And you’re not alone. I have so many friends and clients who’ve been in this situation. And it’s hardly ever clear cut. It’s almost always sad and consuming and stressful.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 04:30
You’ve only given me two pieces of information here. They’re very simple and very important. The first is that your spouse does not want help with his addiction. And the second is that you’re not leaving. That’s a tough combination anonymous. If only he wanted help, or if only you were willing to leave, but Okay, we’re gonna take those off the table. We’re gonna work with what we’ve got. Basically, if he doesn’t want help, and you don’t want to leave, you’re gonna have to figure out how to make this work for you. Because the bottom line is that you simply can’t force someone to get help, but if you’re gonna stay in this thing for any and all of the reasons you are, then you need to figure out how to take care of yourself. This looks like major self-compassion. It looks like parenting; it looks like nurturing yourself. It looks like support. Beside from one on one therapy, which I think would be good for you. There’s a ton of support out there for someone in your shoes. I would try Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, they both offer in person and online support groups for families and loved ones of someone who’s struggling with addiction. These groups can be amazing places to get guidance and support and understanding. I also recommend the books understanding and helping an addict and codependent no more, they both have guidance on how to really manage being in a relationship like this one. I think one really big thing that you could be working on too is just educating yourself on the type of addiction your spouse is struggling with. Really getting familiar with the long term impacts, the potential hazards and all the treatment options, that way, If there does come a day when he suddenly feels up for getting help, you will know exactly where to turn and what to do. The last thing I want to address is that if you have kids in the home, this takes things to a different level. Even if you’re adamant about staying in this relationship, there are other people to think about. And it’s really important to address some of this stuff with them, getting your kids in therapy or getting them into support groups. Helping them understand addiction and how to take care of themselves around it is really vital. When we let kids struggle with someone in the household who’s an addict, it can have really long lasting impacts on their lives, their own relationships, their own potential struggles with addiction. Check out americanaddictioncenters.org for some additional resources in this area. Look anonymous, I’m not going to bug you about leaving. That’s a hard decision. And your reasons for staying are variable and I don’t know what they are. But I just really want you know, take care of yourself. Make sure you’re safe. Make sure you’re getting your needs met. Make sure you’ve got support along the way. I will be thinking about you.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 07:04
Make sure you come back on Wednesday for another therapy related episode. This time, I dive into why do people lie to their therapist and you don’t want to miss it. Make sure you subscribe to NEW DAY on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.